Day Use hours are from 6:00am-11:00pm
Pismo State Beach
Welcome to Pismo State Beach! Located along the beautiful Central Coast of California, Pismo State Beach has a pleasant year round climate making it ideal for outdoor recreation and exploring! Pismo State Beach offers visitors the options to choose from many diverse activites including: camping, surfing, swimming, fishing, bird watching, walking trails, a boardwalk through the dunes, a vistor center, free educational programs, a freshwater lagoon and the opportunity to observe Western Monarch Butterflies (November-February).
The dunes at the Pismo State Beach and to the south in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dune Complex are considered the finest and most extensive along the California coast. Most of the sand that formed these dunes was carried down to the ocean by rivers and streams, deposited on the beach by ocean currents, and then shaped by the wind into the dunes seen today, a process that took millions of years.
The Chumash Indians lived in this area for thousands of years. Evidence of their presence can be seen in several locations in the dunes in the form of “middens,” which are piles of shells left after the Chumash collected them for food. These middens are protected by state and federal law; please do not enter or disturb these areas.
In 1769, members of Gaspar de Portola’s inland Spanish expedition traveled through our coastal dunes, encountering not only the Chumash but an area full of native black bears and grizzly bears. While Portola’s group was traveling through Oso Flaco they tracked and killed the skinniest bear (un oso flaco) they had ever seen, giving the area its current name.
The Dunites were a primitive settlement of free thinkers, artists, writers, and mystics that lived in the dunes beginning in the 1930s. They predominantly lived in the area they named Moy Mel (Gaelic for “pastures of honey”). Many Dunites considered this area to have mystic vibrations. The last Dunite, Bert Schievink, died in 1974. The area today is still known by its given name and is a popular location in the park.
In 1934, California State Parks first aquired the land that is now know as the Oceano Campground. Over the following decades, more land was aquired and the Oceano Dunes District was formed. Today, the Oceano Dunes District includes Pismo State Beach and the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
Day use hours are from 6:00am to 11:00pm. Day use passes are $5.00 per vehicle entering the beach. Passes may sell out on summer weekends and holidays.
Motor vehicles may access the beach at the end of West Grand Avenue located in Grover Beach. The speed limit on the beach is 15 MPH. It is strongly recommended that only those with four-wheel drive vehicles access the beach. For more information on beach camping and OHV use, please visit the website for Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area by Click Here
Visitors wanting to access the beach by foot may park their vehicles in the lot located off of West Grand Avenue near Fin’s Bar & Grill Restaurant. A boardwalk to the beach and public restrooms are available for visitors.
Camp fires are allowed on the beach but must not be greater than three feet in diameter and two feet in height. Only wood and untreated wood products free of metal, petroleum products or other toxic substances shall be used.
Dogs are also allowed on the beach but must be kept on a leash, not longer than six feet, at all times.
All camping reservations must be made online at ReserveCalifornia.com or by calling Reserve California at 1-800-444-7275 8:00am - 6:00pm Pacific Time (PT). Reservations are required during peak season and holiday weekends. Reservations may be made up to six months in advance, but they must be made at least 48 hours prior to arrival. Both campgrounds provide conventional amenities such restrooms, pay operated hot-showers, picnic tables and a camp fire ring.
North Beach Campground features tent camping facilities and a campfire center. Visitors can also access the beach from the campground and enjoy the the views along Carpenter Creek. The Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is also accessible from the campground. In the summer months, Jr. Ranger Programs and Campfire Programs are held at the campfire center. Summer 2019 programming is cancelled due to campfire center upgrades. You can access online Jr Ranger program materials by Clicking Here or visit the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center.
Oceano Campground features both hook-up RV sites and tent camping sites. Visitors can access the beach from the campground, explore wildlife along a freshwater lagoon, and enjoy the Visitor Center. In the summer months, Jr. Ranger Programs and Campfire Programs are held at the campfire center.
Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center
Located at 555 Pier Avenue, at the entrance to the Oceano Campground, the newly remodeled Oceano Dunes Visitor Center is a one stop place to learn about the park and local area. Friendly staff and volunteers will help answer your questions about the park and local area. This interpretive center will introduce you to the history of the area, teach you about local wildlife and give you fun ideas for adventuring in the park! Kids can enjoy hands-on activities and pick up an interpretive activity booklet.
- OPEN DAILY: 12pm-4pm
Summer 2019 Programming
Join Interpretive Park Rangers for a fun and interactive presentation about local wildlife and cultural topics. After the sun goes down, gather around our community campfire and learn something new! All ages welcome.
When: 8pm Friday and Saturday
Where: The Campfire Center at the Oceano Campground in Pismo State Beach
Children ages 7-12 are invited to become Jr. Rangers at Pismo State Beach! Join our Interpretive Park Rangers for fun activities as you learn about the outdoors! At your first Junior Ranger program you will get a logbook and badge.
When: 10:30am - 11:00am Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Where: The Campfire Center at the Oceano Campground in Pismo State Beach
Pismo Clams are bivalves, which means they have two siphones and a two halfed shell. These clams bury themselves a few inches below the wet sand using their digging foot. The intake valve draws seawater into the body of the clam to capture diatoms, algae and plankton! In 1947, Pismo Beach deemed itself the "Clam Capital of the World". The Pismo Clam and the Pacific Razor Clam made up most of the catch by clammers. The largest Pismo Clam recorded in California came from Pismo Beach and was 7.37 inches across and estimated to be 26 years old. An influx of clammers and sea otters (natural predators to the Pismo Clam) led to the depletion of the Pismo Clam population. Pismo clam populations fluctuate dramatically due to a variety of natural influences.
A fragile and valuable resource, Pismo clams may be taken under the following regulations:
- Clammers must have a fishing licenseand an accurate (rigid) measuring device in possession.
- Only Pismo clams at least 4 1/2" in length may be possessed.
- Undersized Pismo clams must be immediately reburied in the area where dug.
- Bag limit is 10 Pismo clams.
- Hours of clamming are 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
The Pacific Razor Clam can be taken at all times during the year, with a valid fishing licence. There is a limit of 20 clams per person.
Surf fishing is a popular activity along the shoreline here at Pismo Beach State Beach. A fishing licence is required. For information on licensing, species, size, and take limits, please visit California Fish and Wildlife at www.wildlife.ca.gov. The ocean can be dangerous and unpredictable. Never turn your back on the waves and be aware of your surrounding at all times while fishing. Sand bars are evershifting and strong ripcurrents are prevalent along this coastline.
The Oceano Lagoon is located behind the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center and the Oceano Campground. A fishing licence is required. For information on licensing, species, size, and take limits, please visit California Fish and Wildlife at www.wildlife.ca.gov. There is an ADA accesible fishing platform.
For more information on the pilot program and to download the app directly from the Apple store, visit OuterSpatial (http://bit.ly/PismoCSPapp). Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
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There are ADA accessible restrooms at Grand Avenue and Pier Avenue beach access ramps. Sand wheel chairs are available at all park entrance stations. There is an ADA accessible boardwalk with viewing platforms that begins at Grand Avenue and travels north the foredunes. California State Parks supports equal access. Visitors who need assistance should contact the Oceano Dunes District Ranger Station at (805) 473-7220 or 711 TYY relay service prior to arrival.